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Valentine’s Day: Relationship Deal Breakers
Jessica Walthall, Joanna Piacenza,

Valentine’s Day’s sweet treats and mushy love letters can help set the tone for a romantic evening—but conversation hearts and Hallmark cards are not a panacea for the problems couples may face every other day of the year.

The 2013 PRRI/RNS Religion News Survey asked Americans about three potential “major problems” that can arise in romantic relationships and marriages: when couples have different religious beliefs, different political beliefs, or an unsatisfying sex life. We explored Americans’ sensitivity to these potential relationship pitfalls by political party and religious affiliation to provide a window into what Americans are most concerned about in searching for their perfect match.


1) Sex for all sects (and political parties). By far, the biggest deal breaker for all Americans is an unsatisfying sex life. A majority (54 percent) of Americans believe an unsatisfying sex life is a major problem for couples, beating out other potential issues such as differing religious beliefs (29 percent) and differing political views (17 percent).

2) Republicans are more concerned about political and religious mismatches. At 38 percent, Republicans are more likely to say that opposing religious beliefs is a major problem for a marriage or romantic relationship than Democrats (22 percent) or independents (29 percent). Republicans (25 percent) are also more likely than Democrats (13 percent) and independents (15 percent) to say that differing political views would be a major problem.


3) For evangelicals, religious compatibility as important as sexual compatibility. White evangelical Protestants are the only group to say religious differences pose as serious a problem for couples as an unsatisfying sex life. Fifty-six percent say different religious beliefs would create major issues in a relationship, while 57 percent say the same about an unsatisfying sex life.

4) Red, blue, or purple: we can work it out. Most Americans do not believe that political differences represent a major hurdle for couples. Only 17 percent of Americans say differing political views pose a major problem for couples. Forty-six percent say it would be a minor problem while 34 percent say it would not be a problem at all.

This post was updated on Feb. 9, 2016.